by Kim Stanley Robinson
Ann wanted to take the elevator down like they did in the revolution of 2061. The revolutionists had taken over all the cities except West Sheffield where The Socket was located. The Socket is the Mar’s base for the elevator. The asteroid that the elevator is attached is Clarke. Peter is Ann’s son and he has been the coordinator for all the space craft management during the revolution to severe all ties with Earth.
Peter was part of the green units that represented the Free Mars contingent of the revolution. Ann was with the Red Revolutionaries but she steered clear of Kasei who was an extremist Red.
A meeting of all the revolutionary factions met in a warehouse in East Pavonis. Nadia was at the center of the discussion. Ann spoke with Sax but they argued as always. Sax wanted to keep the elevator and Ann wanted it down. Frustrated, Ann left the strategy session and went down to The Socket. Here the area was jammed with people and the police who represented the Free Mars Revolutionists.
Ann took a train to Lastflow where Kasei had rockets set up to take out the elevator. Ann found out Kasei would start a civil war if the Green’s tried to stop them from taking down the elevator.
Ann was tired. She was one hundred and fifty years old and her last treatment was twenty-five years ago.
The meeting continued. Ann spoke in favor of taking the elevator down as did Kasei. Nadia, Art, and Jackie supported the elevator to stay. With a representative vote, the majority voted to keep the elevator in place.
Nadia woke Ann up. She had fallen asleep in the rover. Nadia broke in to the rover. The Reds had launched missiles but they were taken out before they hit the cable. Nadia needed Ann to stop the Red’s fighting in Sheffield. Ann called Kasei. He plans to take the elevator down at the socket. Ann drove to The Socket but could already see the explosions in the sky. She talked to Peter and he wanted her to tell Hastings on Clarke that it was a splinter group and that the Reds would have it under control soon. She went into Sheffield to find Kasei. There was a brilliant flash. She was knocked down. Kasei and his group were all dead. Ann took Kasei’s wrist band and told all the Red’s to evacuate. Kasei was dead. She gathered the beaten down KaKaze and told them to go in hiding with Coyote and prepare for another day. They sadly agreed. Ann found Sax and demanded an end to the soletta or she would set KaKaze into action again. Sax said he would stop the soletta, an annular mirror, from heating the atmosphere.
Sax felt that by relinquishing the mirrors and starting an ice age would be worth it if it stopped the fighting. Sax thought he could move the soletta to Venus and make Venus more habitable whereby taking the pressure off Mars. The soletta has slats that when adjusted becomes a parasol shielding Venus from insolation. Sax implemented the removal of the soletta and now the heat from the sun was allowed to escape from the surface of Mars directly into space. Sax wanted to help Ann. He talked to Michel and learned that Ann had been abused by her step-father when she was eight-years old until she was sixteen. Michel doesn’t know how anyone can help Ann. She loves the rock of Mars. And she hates anything that wants to change it. Sax wanted to walk the landscape with Ann so he took a plane to visit her at a Red’s compound. She didn’t want to see or talk to him. After several days Sax and Ann went out and walked the landscape. It was a high elevation so there was not much vegetation. Sax could see Ann was having difficulty. She had not taken the longevity treatment for twenty-five years. As they entered the building she collapsed into a comma. She had let it be known that she wanted to die. Sax could not let her die and made secret arrangements to give her the longevity treatment. Afterwards he knew she was going to recover.
There was a general consensus that there should be a contingent from Mars to visit Earth. Nirgal, Maya, Michael and Sax decided to go. Sax thought it would be a good idea not to be around when Ann regained her strength.
The meetings for the new Mars government progressed. Everyone worked hard and it became apparent that Jackie would rise to be the President or Princess or whatever they decided to call her.
Nadia, with Art’s constant attention, functioned as the central coordinator for the laws of the new government.
The four landed on Earth first at Trinidad where Nirgal found his father Coyote’s heritage. They were all warmly welcomed and greatly celebrated. The low elevation and high humidity was extremely difficult for Nirgal. They soon departed for Bern Germany.
The little red people of Mars used the ants introduced by the earth people for transportation. One ant could carry ten to twenty little red Martians. They tried to help the earthlings but communication was difficult.
Nadia called for final drafts of the new laws. Nadia ultimately fell in love with Art and they worked the meetings together very successfully. With Mars’s ratification of their new constitution, Maya met with the UN and World Court.
Nirgal continued to talk to groups at Berne and discuss how they must deal with population reduction in order to accommodate the life treatments. One day he traveled to the Alps and felt at home with Earth and Mars. He met a man from England who said he had seen Hiroko, Nirgal’s mother. Nirgal went to England and traveled by boat in search of Hiroko. He saw all the flooded submerged cities. He found a lady but it was not Hiroko. Nirgal developed a high temperature and his escorts rushed him back to Sax in Berne. Sax said he might have altitude sickness and they decided to go home and put Nirgal in a Mar’s gravity.
Michel traveled to his home France. Here he saw all of his beautiful hills but the long white beaches were gone. He traveled to a house where he once lived with a girl for three years. He walked through an olive tree orchard. Here he realized he was home. Maya concluded the business with the UN and it was successful. Michel showed Maya his home and she relaxed and they enjoyed the time they spent together. When Maya got the call that Nirgal was sick her and Michel packed and returned to space with assistance from Praxis.
Ann counseled with Michel as he traveled back to Mars. His advice to Ann was to get out and travel around Mars. She took a large rover and went to the ice sea. She was chased by a polar bear. She paced her running and used all of her Martian skills and made it back to her rover. She had soup with a man who was an animal designer. She left him as soon as possible thinking he was a predator – never look back. Ann climbed a volcano Aeasus and found lichen at extremely high altitudes. She continued to the rim and realized that this would always remain the pure Mars. She kept getting images in the corner of her eyes. Ann wondered about Boone’s mythic little red Martians.
After Nadia was done with the constitution she wanted to get out and build. She was approached by so many people and groups of people. They initially wanted her to be part of the council then president. Art agreed to help her and she was committed to government service for three years. She accepted her responsibilities but yearned for a time when she could become a builder again. She saw, as the president, she could set up a conference to discuss creating greenhouse gases. Ultimately, she never attended the greenhouse conference. She had more pressing issues with her presidency. Ursala and Vlad visited Nadia and it was fun for her. They suggested that she let them regrow her lost finger. Nadia took the treatment and was then called to Cairo. Jackie was ignoring the water pumping laws. In Cairo Nadia upheld the constitution and Cairo and Jackie agreed to stop pumping water and thus retard the growth in the area. Nadia decided to take some time off.
Nadia decided to investigate the production of soil and found the scientists were having real difficulties. She constantly was involved with the government and she found her stride and with it she found she had real power. She tired of the arguments associated with all the problems. Art and Nadia decided to build a new capital on a bay. Nadia was very excited about building and designing it. Art mentioned that he thought they would have a great time raising a child. Nadia was flabbergasted.
Nirgal arrived at Sheffield and Jackie had her little baby girl with her. Nirgal was no longer happy with the politics of Jackie’s Free Mars. He learned how to fly small-blimp, jet-powered planes. After hearing Jackie deal with a Chinese diplomat and her insistence that he decide what position he wanted in her Free Mars, Nirgal took a plane and few to an airfield far away in Marineris on Candor Mensa. Here on the island he lived with some revolutionary friends who showed him how they partied and dined at night and flew down to the canyon bottoms to do their econ-work during the day. There were so many large animals now they had to carry dart guns with them. Here in the canyons they had their farms and had a great life. Nirgal knew it wasn’t the life for him. So he took his rented plane with money he got from Coyote and explored some isolated canyons while listening to John Boone’s AI describe his trip through this area. Back at the island in the sky, Nirgal heard someone say they had seen Hiroko. Nirgal believed her and consulted Sax. Sax said that Hiroko had saved him in a whiteout and she had grabbed his wrist. Sax said he believed Hiroko was alive. Nirgal left to find her.
Finally, Nirgal returned to Sabishii. There he found a basin outside of town to farm. He worked for a construction co-op in town and his friends would visit him. Nadia, Art and their daughter Nikki would visit. Sax and Coyote would stop in. Nirgal continued taking care of his land. He had every variety of flower. His potatoes and vegetables were doing well. One day a yellow virus hit his plants. Sax helped and Nirgal had to replace all his soil and replace all the plants. It appeared they had eradicated the virus. One day Sax visited Nirgal and a dust storm dropped over a meter of dust on Nirgal's basin. All his plants and animals would die soon. Nirgal returned to Sabishii.
Sax met Bao a genius mathematician. Sax was taking her out on a regular basis when her Mother died in a plane accident and she had to leave probably not to return. Sax spent his time studying the weather. He flew kites and one day Michel showed up. Michel wanted to go back to Earth and Sax wanted Ann. Time marched on and all the remaining First Hundred worked on how they would spend their time.
Nirgal wanted to win the race around Mars for 6 out of 10 times so he was out running and practicing. His one cache had a mudslide and he ran and went hungry for three to four days. He came upon a tribe that was chasing antelope. He followed them down into a Sequoia Forest. He slept on a platform in the top of a tree. It took 400 steps to reach the top of the tree. He liked their hunting tribe and asked if he could stay with them for awhile. They traveled to an orchard and processed the fruit. One day they came upon a town and stayed at a hostel and went flying in blimps and bird suites. The butcher woman Nirgal liked invited him to join her for the evening. When they were discussing where they would go next Nirgal found out the woman was Jackie’s daughter.
Space travel had been reduced in time. Mars to Earth only took three days. All asteroids and moons were being tunneled for settlement. Thousands of them. Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, even Mercury and Venus had settlements. But everyone was still nervous because Earth had 18 billion people and Mars had 18 million. The population pressure was mounting.
Zo, Jackie’s daughter, was trying to broker an agreement with Mercury. She told them she would build another terminator on the other side of the planet if they didn’t come up with an agreement.
Zo went to Earth. On the way she watched Venus as they passed by.
Back on Mars, Zo went flying then talked to Jackie. Jackie asked her to work at her co-op for a month then make a trip to the outer settlements including Uranus. Zo worked at her co-op which was located in a rainforest crater. One day Sax came to see the jungle and asked Zo to show it to him. Zo splayed herself on a beach for him and he accepted. Sax asked Zo to take Ann with her to Uranus. Zo agreed.
The next day Zo called Ann and she agreed to go to Miranda, Uranus and Jupiter with Zo. Ann attended many of the meetings Zo had with officials on many moons and asteroids. Ann thought Zo was harsh and cruel. Zo just told them the way it was. Jackie wanted Mars to be the central power, part of a system wide alliance. Ann and Zo went to Miranda, a fusion of two moons collided. They trekked down a 70,000 foot rift. Zo started her routine talking about how the Chinese would invade their moons if they didn’t form an alliance with Mars. One of the Uranian team members punched Zo and she tumbled down the abyss. Ann climbed down and rescued her. They didn’t talk to the Uranians on the trip back. Zo expressed her gratitude for Ann’s quick action to rescue Zo.
They returned to Mars. Zo worked at the co-op and flew after work. One day a 9-m year old girl fell toward the sea. Zo rescued her but they still ended up in the water.
Michael told Sax that Maya’s mental state was seriously deteriorating. Sax suggested they move to Odessa and travel to the placed where Maya had lived. Michel thought it was a good idea.
Michel took Maya to the drowned city of Burroughs. They dove down, down, down and Maya recognized the pillars and canal and buildings and it was good. She remembered many memories and it was good for her. Maya was approached by a member of the Green Party. They wanted Maya to represent them to continue allowing immigration from Earth. Maya agreed because she would be talking against the Free Mars group represented by Jackie. Maya and Michel took a boat down the Grand Canal and started to shadow Jackie’s promotion trail. Jackie’s support for no immigration from Earth would cause a war and Maya knew it.
Jackie was told her only daughter Zo was killed in a flying accident. Jackie tried to be stoic but lost her desire for the Presidency. She decided to travel great distances in space. She soon left Mars.
Maya and Michel settled in Odessa. Maya worked for the water company. The water company managed the hydrologic cycle. Michel continued his work with the First Hundred’s history and he counseled people. Maya’s memory was getting worse. One day she was in her apartment with Michel, Nadia and Art. Maya picked up a picture and didn’t know who it was. Everyone was shocked and Maya ran out of the apartment. The picture was of Frank Chalmers. Within thirty minutes of this event Michel died of arrhythmia.
Michel’s death and the fact that Sax was experiencing blackouts precipitated him to study longevity and memory aspects of the human brain. Sax went to Marisa and requested help with his work. There Sax developed some theories and shared them with the young scientists. As he walked he saw the beauty of Mars and was overcome by the need to see Ann. Sax went to the caldera where she was living and looked for her. She was out climbing the walls. He found her and she was glad to see him. They decided to climb an easy trail, but it wasn’t easy for Sax. Sax told Ann that he had assisted with the development of a memory treatment. Sax believed without memories, without our personal history, life was not of value. Sax asked Ann to take the treatment with him. She agreed.
Fourteen of the First One Hundred were still alive and all of them wanted the treatment. They all went to Underhill, a place of shared memories. Everyone took the memory treatment except Maya. She said she would administer and supervise. She did not want the treatment. It worked. Sax was overwhelmed by the flood of memories. He realized he was in love with Ann but had been too shy to act upon it.
After the success of the experiment, Sax and Ann went sailing together in the North Sea. They were surprised by a huge storm that swept them into an ice stacked coast line. With no choice, Sax hit the emergency device that made their boat into a blimp. It carried them out of the ocean into the thunderstorm. After hours of bouncing around they landed on land.
Sax and Ann visited Nadia and Art. Ann and Maya took Nadia’s grandchildren to the beach. At the beach the “new” Ann rationalized the new Mars. She saw that these children would live a long full life. Ann had seen Nadia’s daughter Nikki and her husband. They were eighty years old. They left for the mountains for the weekend and they acted like children. Ann thought it was good for adults to be carefree and childlike. Ann went for ice cream and Sax showed up with Nirgal. Ann was so happy to see Nirgal. Ann bought more ice cream for the new arrivals and was hit with an arrhythmia. She did not want to die now; she wanted to live. Walking back to the others Ann told herself that no where on Mars were people killing each other. All Martian children had shelter and food and safety. As she walked over the sand to her friends she knew she loved this Mars.
by Brenda Krekeler